2023 Reading Dog Fun
January I found a great online article about a teacher who turned her student’s worst monsters into cuddly toys. [This Teacher Surprised Her Students With Stuffed Animals Of Their Drawings (sunnyskyz.com)]. It gave me the idea to get some little plush GSD stuffed animals and we could give them to a kid who participates in Reading Dog and who is having a hard day. They could take them home and bring it back the next day. I would put a red heart tag on them that says “Spirit the therapy dog loves you.” (Their ID badge with Alliance of Therapy Dogs says “I am a Therapy Dog” on one side and “registered with ATD on the other – and is a red heart). The kids all know that red heart.
Spirit does Reading Dog every Thursday with the kindergarteners at Holy Name School. Emily, the teacher, loved the idea, so we started looking for sable (like Spirit) plush GSD toys. Joy, the activity director at Big Horn Rehab, found some that would work. Emily ordered two and said she also had some small blankets to go with them, like Spirit’s rug at Reading Dog. I found some perfect tags at Muddy Pawprints and Jocie engraved them for me. The stuffed GSDs arrived in time for me to pick them up, find a couple of puppy collars that fit them, and attach the tags before our January 19th Reading Dog session. I took photos of them on their blankets on my kitchen counter – the first photos in this series.
When we got to the school, Emily introduced the two “reading pups.” Don’t miss Spirit’s reaction to the “pups!” We said nothing to the kids about them being a comfort; instead, Emily announced that they would take turns taking the “reading pups” home and reading to them there. She is also starting a unit on responsibility, and it will include discussions of taking care of pets.
The next time I was at Tongue River Elementary, the counselor said they would love to have the “reading pups,” too. I finally found for some nice black and tan stuffed GSDs to represent Hopeful and Lovely, plus I ordered another of these sable ones to represent Spirit. Two of these three go to TRE every Monday morning for Reading Dog, taking turns. The kids, of course, know all three, so we needed three “reading pups.”
February: I presented Tongue River Elementary School with the three “reading pups.” The principal was excited and insisted on taking a photo of Spirit with “her” pup so he could send a notice to all the teachers that the “reading pups” were available to use with students who were having a rough day or need reading practice. When Hopeful came in for the last half of the Reading Dog sessions, one of office staff members took a photo of her with her “pup.” When Lovely next does Reading Dog at TRE, we’ll get a photo of her. I take 2 of the 3 dogs every Monday.
Photo 1: The Holly Name School kindergarteners recently had their first letter-writing lesson and used it to write letters to Spirit. Spirit, of course, answered each one and included a trading card. We gave them to Emily when we arrived today for Reading Dog. After we left, it was snack time and Emily read Spirit’s letters to the kids. The kids were thrilled and decided they need a photo for Spirit. Next time that the class writes to Spirit, she and I will stay later and enjoy the letter-reading time. Spirit will love more treats, too!
Photo 2: During Reading Dog, one of the boys asked if he could sit on my lap while he read to Spirit. Emily happened to come out of the classroom (we set up in the class’s coat closet just outside tor room) and was so tickled that she grabbed her cell phone. Of course the other boy had to pose, too!
Photo 3: Lovely with her “Reading Pup” at Tongue River Elementary.
April: We took photos of Spirit and the Holy Name Schol kindergarteners so that we can make them a set of their own trading cards. See the photos.
The principal at Tongue River Elementary School sent me this photo. The little girl was having a rough day and was sad, so he gave her one of the Reading Pups for comfort.